The 2012 Cost of Family Breakdown Index – £44 billion and counting


The Relationships Foundation has published the results of its fourth annual Cost of Family Breakdown Index (sometimes referred to in the media as the ‘Family Failure Index’). The 2012 total cost of family breakdown to the UK was £44 billion (£43.94 billion), up from £42 billion last year. The annual cost per taxpayer is now £1,470.

The index looks at the cost of family breakdown in five key areas of public policy: Tax and Benefits, Housing, Health and Social Care, Civil & Criminal Justice and Education & Young People not in education, employment or training.

Commenting, Michael Trend, Executive Director of the Foundation said:

“In the past we have welcomed David Cameron's commitment to make us the ‘most family friendly country in Europe’, but we deplore the way the costs of family failure continue to increase.

“Following the publication of our new Family Pressure Gauge last May, which showed families in the UK being among the most pressured in Europe, the publication today of our fourth annual Cost of Family Breakdown Index shows yet another steep rise. Not only a steep rise in the economic costs that the government can ill afford to meet even in good times, and especially not at the moment; but also a steep rise in the price paid in the broken hearts and broken dreams of parents and children alike.

“It is deeply regrettable that the cause of supporting stable family life and strengthening marriage has become collateral damage in the tank manoeuvres of liberalism and conservatism within the coalition government. It is time for the Prime Minister to get a grip and formally place family policy at the heart of his government, by locating responsibility for it directly where he can keep a close eye on it – at Number 10, where, evidence suggests, what small importance it once had in policy terms has recently been downgraded.

“Our view is that if you sideline family policy you court systemic failure: this was surely one of the lessons of last summer’s rioting. It is high time the coalition got its act together on family policy. If we want to see real progress in improving wellbeing, increasing children’s life chances, higher educational attainment, less crime and reduced welfare dependency we cannot afford another year of such limited action.

“The government needs a long term strategy to support the modern family. It will soon be simply incredible for any member of the government to make any coherent claim to be seen as family friendly.”

1. A link to the report can be found here:  

2. Assuming 29.9 million taxpayers, this is an average of £1,470 a head :

3. The Relationships Foundation’s Family Pressure Gauge has been developed to measure progress towards the goal of making Britain the ‘most family friendly country in Europe’ – the stated intent of the coalition government. It will be updated annually, provide the framework for press and policy comment as we hold government to account and will promote greater awareness of ways in which families are undermined, and may be supported. Read more here:

Notes to Editors

The Cost of Family Failure Index has run since 2009. 
This edition uses the methodology in last year’s edition which introduced several adjustments as part of the effort to refine the index’s methodology and improve its overall rigour of estimation. All the assumptions for calculation adopted in this edition follow those in last year’s edition. For more detailed information on the calculation methodology and for sources of data, see Counting the Cost of Family Failure, 2011 Update:

The data used for calculations in this edition is based, insofar as they are available, on the public accounts financial year 2009-10, ie, year ending 31 March 2010. The release of some figures has been delayed. Where data for 2009-10 is not available, best estimates are calculated, usually by extrapolating from the trends in the preceding years and by adjusting for inflation.